The Cleveland Indians continue to deal with a pitching crisis and put Triston McKenzie on the mound in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader.
As fans know, McKenzie was hit with a demotion over a week ago and returned on his normal schedule.
The walks were the problem and the young right-hander managed to pitch five scoreless innings upon his return.
The results were a bit different in Monday’s seven-inning game, but McKenzie still provided suitable work.
He finished with five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work in what ended up being an 8-6 extra-innings loss.
But the key was the fact McKenzie only walked two batters and had 10 strikeouts.
So is this good enough to remain up in the rotation?
Showing Enough To Stay
There is no reason why McKenzie necessarily has to be demoted once again.
The Indians have a shortage of starters and had to put Cal Quantrill on the mound in Monday’s second game.
Eli Morgan had a rough debut, albeit in bad weather, and Logan Allen continues to struggle mightily down in Triple-A.
Jean Carlos Mejia is another option, but McKenzie is the one with actual MLB experience.
The right-hander only allowing two walks Monday was a great sign.
Striking out 10 Chicago White Sox batters was a bonus and proves he still has great stuff to shut down the best lineups in the league.
Approaching history in the process didn’t hurt his case either.
Triston McKenzie tied the American League record for most consecutive strikeouts with 8.
Kid brought it today.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/HLx2pqdGh9
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 31, 2021
Walks will hurt any pitcher, let alone such a young arm still learning the MLB game.
One Concern With The Young Right-Hander
The one thing to keep in mind with McKenzie is that he has never had a true full season of work as a professional.
The most innings he has ever logged were the 143 he had back in 2017.
That was down in Single-A Lynchburg.
Triston McKenzie has set a franchise record with eight consecutive strikeouts, eclipsing Corey Kluber's previous record of seven in a row, also against the White Sox, on May 4, 2014.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 31, 2021
McKenzie also missed the entire 2019 season and was forced into limited action in 2020 because of the shortened schedule.
Trying to keep him on a true innings limit may be a a bit much.
However, reaching that 140-150-inning mark may be his peak in 2021.
The good thing with this team is they have a surplus of talent in the bullpen.
McKenzie can log four or five innings and have someone piggyback him out of the bullpen.
That keeps him fresh and also stretches out a bullpen arm, like Quantrill, to potentially start throughout the year.
The front office will also want to keep McKenzie’s confidence in mind.
Sending him up and down after he made the Opening Day roster may not be the best idea.
That is especially true after his 10 strikeouts against a tough White Sox team.
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